An effort to collect the 1,182 signatures needed for voters to decide the future of wind power in the county has angered opponents of wind farms.
On May 5, Crawford County Commissioners passed a resolution blocking wind farm development in all unincorporated areas of the county, banning construction of Honey Creek Wind, Apex’s planned 300-megawatt industrial wind farm. CleanEnergy.
But under the terms of Senate Bill 52, which became law in July, wind farm supporters have 30 days to submit petitions forcing a November referendum vote on the issue, which could undo the commissioners’ action. .
“They go up to people and say you can sign whether you’re for it or against it,” said Beth Swalley, a wind farm opponent who lives in Holmes Township and owns a farm in Lykens Township. “Which I understand is technically true, but the problem being that they have to collect 1,182 signatures to get it on the ballot. If they force people who are against to sign, that’s what they’re trying to do, it’ll be easier for them to get to that 1,182.”
After:Crawford Anti-Wind: ‘What we’re asking is to let people speak’
Julie Drennen, public engagement manager for Apex in Ohio, said the company’s position is that people should have the opportunity to vote on the issue.
“As we were working on Honey Creek Wind and up until the vote on May 5, many in the county had said, ‘Well, this should be put to a county-wide vote. And that says nothing about anyone’s opinion of wind power; it just says we should have the opportunity, as a county as a whole, for voters to have their say on this issue,” she said.
Crawford Anti-Wind Members: Don’t Sign Petitions
In a message sent to the Telegraph-Forum’s Facebook page, Roger and Kay Weisenauer, who have been active in Crawford Anti-Wind, discouraged people from signing the petitions. If the effort fails to secure a referendum on the ballot, “we’ll be done with the Apex wind,” they said in the post.
“Now please spread the word as well to get your Crawford Anti-Wind registrations registered,” the message read. “The battle is not over. We must massively show our strength and support. Together, we protect our county, our neighbors and our livelihoods.”
The 30-day deadline for submitting petitions falls on a weekend, so petitioners have until the following Monday, June 6. The petitions must be signed by 1,182 registered voters, or 8% of the 14,767 votes cast for gubernatorial candidates in the last gubernatorial election. County Attorney Matt Crall explained in an April 23 public hearing on the matter.
A political action committee, Honey Creek Action, is funding the petition campaign and has hired an outside group to collect signatures, Drennen explained, noting that while Apex contributed to the company-sponsored PAC and supports the action , he is not directly involved in the petition campaign.
The outstanding petitions have been approved as meeting all legal requirements, and all signatures will be checked to ensure they are valid, she said.
Tyler Fehrman is part of Honey Creek Action
One of Honey Creek Action’s two current board members — a third will be added soon, Drennen said — is Tyler Fehrman, who is also Apex’s field manager.
He pointed out that when speaking about the petition campaign, he was doing so as a representative of Honey Creek Action.
“We’ve seen a number of people who have been active in the Crawford Anti-Wind group, we see a lot of them saying, ‘Don’t sign the petitions whatever you do’, ‘We don’t want that to go and vote’ , and really, they’ve completely changed their messaging from what it’s been for several months,” Fehrman said. “They went to commissioners’ meetings, countless meetings, and said, ‘We want this to go to the ballot, it should be up to the people. And now that we’re trying to do that, they’re saying the opposite.
“And honestly, that’s where it gets confusing: This initiative that’s happening right now to gather these signatures for these petitions, it’s really not for or against the wind. We think voters in Crawford County should have the ability to choose whether or not they approve or oppose a wind project. To do that, it has to be on the ballot. And to be on the ballot, we have to get signatures.
“So by signing a petition to get it on the ballot, you’re not saying, ‘I support wind power’. You’re saying, ‘I support the people’s right to speak out. That’s what what we’re trying to do.”
Swalley said she believes signature collectors are misleading people and targeting the elderly in particular. She wants people to understand that while windy opponents can technically sign the petitions, “you don’t want to help them get them to vote if you’re against it.”
“If they can honestly find enough pro-wind people to get it on the ballot, I have no problem with that,” Swalley said. “What worries me is that they are misleading the anti-wind people to sign this so they can put it on the ballot.”
The collection of petitions “it seems to be going very well”
Fehrman said the petition campaign was going “incredibly well.”
“We had a pretty encouraging response from people in the community,” Fehrman said. “We have people asking us when and where they can sign the petitions. In my opinion, as someone who has led petitions and ballot access initiatives in the past, it seems that everything is going very well. .”
People who want to sign the petition can visit honeycreekaction.org or text the word “VOTE” to 419-963-5042 and someone from the team will contact them about signing opportunities or arrange a meeting.
People will also be able to sign petitions at a biweekly coffee meeting hosted by Apex at the Pelican Coffee House, 108 S. Sandusky Ave., from 9 to 11 a.m. Thursday, he said.
“This is not a pro-wind petition,” Fehrman said. “It’s pro-vote access and it’s pro-Crawford County residents who have a voice in the vote.”
Drennen said she was optimistic a referendum by ballot would succeed in overturning the commissioners’ resolution.
“There are a lot of silent wind supporters in Crawford County,” she said, citing both the response to a letter sent by the company after the vote and emails from supporters. “There is a significant contingent of positive but silent supporters, and that feels good. I can’t put a number, I can’t speculate on that, but I think if people just look at the vocal opposition , they’re not seeing the whole picture.
“I’ve seen the dialogue on these petitions and many, many people have said it should be put to a vote. So if people want to have a say and not just…let the decision be made fully by the commissioners , so now is the time. They can say yes, I want this on the ballot, I want to have a vote.
When asked if she thought a referendum vote would be successful, Swalley replied with a resounding “no.”
“I don’t think so,” she added. “But the longer it goes on – I mean it just ruined relations between neighbours, communities – the sooner we can sort this out the better. And if they can’t get the number of signatures, they’re gone.”